THURSDAY, May 5 (HealthDay News) -- The use of community-based voluntary counseling and testing (CBVCT) appears to improve initial and repeat HIV testing rates in remote communities as compared with standard, clinic-based VCT (SVCT), according to a study published online May 4 in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
As part of Project Accept, Michael Sweat, Ph.D., of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, and colleagues paired 10 communities in Tanzania, eight in Zimbabwe, and 14 in Thailand according to demographic characteristics, and one of each pair was randomized to receive SVCT alone, or SVCT and CBVCT. Analyses were limited to subjects aged 16 to 32.
The investigators found that the proportion of individuals receiving their first HIV test was higher in CBVCT communities than in SVCT communities in Tanzania (37 versus 9 percent), Zimbabwe (51 versus 5 percent), and Thailand (69 versus 23 percent). Although HIV prevalence was higher among SVCT communities as compared with CBVCT communities, CBVCT detected almost four times more HIV cases than did SVCT across the three study sites (952 versus 264) due to the larger number of people tested with CBVCT. The investigators also found that repeat HIV testing in CBVCT communities increased to reach 28 percent on average across the three countries. In Tanzania and Thailand, a larger proportion of males were tested for HIV in CBVCT communities as compared with SVCT communities.
"Within a short period, Project Accept mobilized large proportions of the study populations to go through the difficult process of learning their HIV infection status, proving that local communities respond to HIV epidemics when comprehensive, user-friendly services are provided," the authors write.
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